I swear to god this was my idea. I remember saying it out loud, discovering it would be an episode later in the year, and finally sitting down to watch it. I got major deja vu. Anyway, I really like this idea. However, the way it was executed was horrible. All they did was tell, they never showed.
The episode focuses around Marie, single mother who lives with her aging father. She gives birth to what seems to be a stillborn, who they seem to replace with a living baby. We really have no idea what happens behind the scenes. Marie names her daughter Sara. Marie is a control freak over her daughter because she has no life outside of Sara. One day, Sara gets lost and Marie loses it. Sara is found the same day, but the next day, Marie gets Arkangel installed in Sara’s head. At the most basic level, Arkangel is a GPS tracking device. The tracking device is put into the child, and a tablet is given to the parent so they can monitor where their kid is. There are also other more advanced features. For example, the parent can see what their child sees and “filter” out anything that causes the child distress. This means Sara can’t see her own blood, her grandfather having a stroke, her mom crying at her grandfather’s funeral, or even her neighbor’s German shepherd barking. Marie turns off the filter after Sara starts to self harm to try to see her own blood and feel pain. Sara grows into a rebellious teen and lies to her mom when she’s really out meeting a boy - scandalous. Marie realizes Sara is lying, turns on the tablet and guess what? Sees her daughter having sex with the boy. Marie never confronts Sara about this, and Sara continues to lie to her mom and even tries cocaine - which her mom also happens to see. Marie confronts the boy and he agrees to never see Sara again. Sara, in distress, goes to see him and he says for her to get away from him. Sara runs away and we later see Marie looking at the tablet looking very angry. However, we don’t know why because we never get to see what’s on the tablet. We do know however, that Marie gives Sara the morning after pill unbeknownst to Sara.* This is the last straw for the daughter and she beats up her mom with the tablet - breaking it, and runs away.
We end the episode just as it gets to the good part. We know the plot as soon as it unfolds, so why dedicate so much time to it? We’ve seen the type of relationship between a rebellious girl and her controlling mother thousands of times. We also know the type of technology this is and what it would do to their relationship. So why not show what happens after? Why not show the mom crazily tracking down her daughter, and then being caught in a dead end because Arkangel was discontinued. Maybe we should find out why it was discontinued. Maybe we should meet more people with the implant and see the pros and cons of it. But we never see the consequences or the debate surrounding this supposedly controversial technology. We see this one story, which had no thought put into it whatsoever, and that’s it. Why not track down the CEO and find out why it was even created? Why not explore the idea that her daughter may not be hers? Or let her find her real dad? I don’t know anything besides this, “All I wanted was to protect you,” crap we’ve seen already. Black Mirror is still a great show, but this episode fell really flat.
*Note: Getting an abortion is not the same as the morning after pill even though Black Mirror says it is.
23 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.